Review of ‘Around Cromford Dam’, by Eddie Allsop

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 15th August 2005, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

AROUND CROMFORD DAM

... sub-titled Growing up in Scarthin and Cromford between the Wars. The chap who did the growing up is Eddie Allsop, born almost at the end of the First World War in the house now operating as Scarthin Books. His memories of a long life are a joy to read.

This is how Eddie remembers his old schoolmistress in her retirement: ‘Miss Cardin, each evening, would step out to the front of her home to ring a curfew on her handbell, to remind all the generations of children that she had taught that, in her judgement, it was time that they were off the streets and off to bed.’

Local ladies of Eddie's younger days attended church with their fox furs looped round their necks; small boys were known to faint after kneeling too long on the barber's stool for a ‘twopenny all off’; and battle scenes in silent films - shown in Matlock Bath Pavilion - were accompanied by the banging of a real drum and explosions from real fireworks!

Eddie recalls the poisonous effects on livestock of early morning dew which was contaminated by lead poisoning, known as belland, and re-lives his working days at John Smedley's mills. Here were produced woollen goods such as long johns (‘with seamless gussets’) and also a new line that ‘really excited our imagination’. These were the first bikinis, with a daring one and a half-inch gap round the midriff.

Around Cromford Dam is full of entertaining snippets of Cromford and Scarthin, plus a detailed list of tradespeople now long gone. Published by Scarthin Books at £4.50 and widely available locally. (ISBN 1-900446-08-1)

Review by Julie Bunting


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